As a kid, my parents always preached that if a person is in a position of power and has the ability to create positive change, they should use it to better the lives of those around them. Being a public figure on campus, I decided to join this fellowship as a means to create a new legacy that can be used for years to come. In general, as a student-athlete, it can be hard to voice your opinion on social justice matters. However, here at Santa Clara we have been given such a luxury that has typically been elusive for college athletes.
Sports play a key role in society, not only entertaining the public but also being a platform that allows for everyone to join the conversation. Although college athletes are different from professional athletes, (instead of playing for money, their blood, sweat and tears are driven purely by the raw passion, and will of an individual) at times there is more of a risk for potential backlash that can occur when a person steps too far out of the box. This is what makes college athletes’ opinions even more newsworthy while forcing people to take a moment and consider the voices of future rising leaders.
Within the last year there have been various demonstrations throughout all sports taking place that force conversations to occur. Whether it is the Mizzou football team (who boycotted their own football games), the 2017 NBA Finals champions (refusing to go to the White House), the USA Women’s Soccer player (taking a knee during the anthem), or the recent displays of unity seen among football players, coaches and some owners it is obvious that the root of these issues can be traced back to the simple fact that these individuals do not only want to better their own experience but the lives of others.
Being able to have conversations and understanding those whose opinions may differ from your own replicates the same team dynamic that is seen throughout sports. It is rare to come across a team that gets along 100% of the time, but being able to have constructive discussions on how to improve problem situations increase the chances of collective success. The thing about teamwork is that everyone has to be willing to compromise in order to work with one another and achieve success. That is what makes being on a team beautiful-the little sacrifices that in turn breed change and turn into magic. If more people were willing to take this approach when tackling matters of free speech and civil discourse, I believe that there can be effective change for the better.
So let’s take another approach. I look at our current political and social climate as the first half a game. During half time, let’s go into the locker room regroup, provide suggestions, be receptive to criticism, and for the second half, come out prepared for anything. Because we’re not going down without a fight….and let me tell you this there’s no way we’re losing this game.